The role of graphic design on the LGBTIQ+ movement

Esthetically, pride month is probably one of the most interesting and eye-catching months of the year, as each color has a specific purpose and represents a different cause within the LGBTIQ+ community.

Logos, flags, there are so many graphic elements that fulfill their own specific purpose, which is why the role of the graphic designer is so important.

The beginnings of graphic design and the LGBTIQ+ movement

Unfortunately, one of the first logos used in relation to this community was a downward-pointing black triangle. During the Nazi regime, gay people, sex workers and trans people, among others, were all identified with this symbol. However, the history of the LGBTIQ+ movement is marked by a spirit of overcoming, and during the 1970s this symbol of oppression was reclaimed, transformed and re-identified by certain groups within the community, giving rise to the “pink triangle”. This gained importance during the AIDS crisis, when a group known as “Gran Fury” started to use it on posters, pointing upward and accompanied by the phrase “Silence = Death”. 

While its origin is related to a dark and terrible period, today it is synonymous with empowerment, resurgence and overcoming for millions of people.

Stonewall riots

One of the most emblematic and decisive events for communication surrounding the LGBTIQ+ community were the so-called “Stonewall riots” or “The Stonewall uprising”. During the 1950s and 60s, the US legal system was particularly hostile towards the LGBTIQ+ community. On June 28 1969, a violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn, located in Greenwich Village, New York, sparked a series of riots and spontaneous demonstrations by the community. 

Mattachine Society

This was one of the first organizations in the United States to demand and fight for gay rights during the 1950s. Their posters and designs were known for carrying a message of peace and tolerance.

After the riots, their messages became more direct. In fact, a slogan painted on a window has been preserved to this day.

“We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village”

Gay Liberation Front

Unlike the previous group, the Gay Liberation Front were more direct in their messages. They used the term “gay” alongside provocative symbols to raise a debate on sexuality and impositions. 

In terms of aesthetics, the aim of this group was to create shocking images with thick lines and sans serif fonts, which are more visually powerful, frequently used on the posters of different political movements.

Raising the pride flag

As we’ve already mentioned, the symbol used up until this point to represent the community was the pink triangle. However, this symbol was imposed by one of the most abhorrent figures in history, which is why in 1978 the artist Gilbert Baker decided to find a new image, something that would represent the community from a positive perspective. This was how one of the most famous and important flags in recent times came to be, showing the vitality and energy of the LGBTIQ+ community through its bright colors.

Although this flag has been changed over the years to include more groups, the following colors were first used, representing:

  • Pink: Sexuality
  • Red: Life
  • Orange: Healing
  • Yellow: Sunlight
  • Green: Nature
  • Turquoise: Magic/Art
  • Indigo: Serenity
  • Violet: Spirit

However, over time the colors turquoise and pink were removed. The latter due to the fact that the pink tone was too costly. Turquoise was removed in 1979 by the Gay Liberation Day March Committee in order to fly the flag as two halves. This was how the community’s most iconic flag emerged, and although it is the most popular, each community has a specific flag with their colors, symbols and purpose.

Source of recognition

While all the contributions made over the years by thousands of activists helped to consolidate the LGBTIQ+ movement, Gilbert Baker’s contribution is probably the most important within the world of design and identity. In order to commemorate his creation, the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather developed the “Gilbert” font in honor of the artist and his work. You can get this font for free at

Images and designs have always been associated with different social causes, and if there is one thing that makes this movement stand out from all others, it is the presence of colors, helping people stand proud before the world. At Freepik we want to offer you the best collections so that you can express yourself during one of the most important months of the year.